A healthy “Legion of Boom” is near lockdown for the Seattle Seahawks defense.
So where is the alleged vulnerability in the Seahawks’ pass defense?
Many would say the best way to exploit it is with the tight end.
“I guess you can blame that on me,” said Seahawks outside linebacker K.J. Wright with a smirk at his locker before practice Thursday. “It is all on me when they have a good day.”
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On Monday night, the Seahawks face another of the NFL’s young, rangy, fast, long-armed tight ends in second-year standout Eric Ebron of the Detroit Lions.
After an up-and-down rookie season, Ebron (6-foot-4, 255 pounds) is really starting to show why the Lions selected him 10th overall out of North Carolina in the 2014 NFL Draft.
Ebron is tied for fifth among NFL tight ends with 20 targets heading into Week 4. His 13 receptions are tied for seventh, and his 157 receiving yards through three games is seventh in the league.
And the guy who professes that his main goal is to score a touchdown in every game — he has come pretty close. Ebron scored at San Diego in the season opener, and at Minnesota the following week.
Not a bad start to the season, considering the Lions’ passing attack hasn’t really gotten dialed in yet — with receivers Calvin Johnson and Golden Tate expected to be heavily featured.
“(Ebron) is a terrific athlete,” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. “We spent a lot of time on him at the draft because he is so fast and athletic. He plays like a wide receiver running routes, and he can make moves and get out of breaks like that.
“He is very fast, so we have to pay a lot of attention to him.”
It has been a constant challenge for the Seattle defense to track opposing tight ends. Since the beginning of last season, it has given up 13 touchdowns to tight ends during that 22-game span.
One of them included Rob Gronkowski’s 22-yard score in the second quarter of the Super Bowl for New England in the Patriots’ 28-24 victory.
Seattle hasn’t given up a 100-yard receiving game to a tight end in that stretch. Antonio Gates was the closest with 96 receiving yards and three touchdowns in the 30-21 loss to San Diego last season.
Top-targeted tight ends have averaged nearly four receptions for 33 yards per game against the Seahawks since the start of the 2014 season.
“It isn’t necessarily something in their skill set that gives us problems,” Wright said. “In those games, they have just thrown a lot to them.”
The Seahawks see a pair of fast-running tight ends in the NFC West in St. Louis’ Jared Cook and San Francisco’s Vernon Davis.
Cook had five receptions for 85 yards in the season opener more than three weeks ago.
Wright sees Ebron potentially as the better all-around package — receiver and blocker — than his divisional counterparts.
“Jared is more of a wiggle receiver — quick and fast,” Wright said. “Ebron is more of a traditional tight end, but he is fast, too. He is good in his own way.”
Last week, Ebron played a career-high 71 snaps against Denver. And with veteran Brandon Pettigrew (hamstring) expected to miss Monday’s game, Ebron should pretty much play every down.
“Big guy — big target,” Seattle strong safety Kam Chancellor said. “He is a good asset for them.”